Unit 5: Nature and Technology: Creating and Challenging American Identity
In this unit, we will look at ways that authors represented the new American identity: its voices, landscapes, and diversity. As often as they helped to construct long-standing ideals of the self-made American, upward mobility and economic progress, and universal liberty and equality, they also criticized the ways that American society and its political and cultural institutions failed to live up to its ideals, and the ways that economic and technological development came at a great price. In this and the following two units, we will look at ways that these authors represented and questioned the new American identity and the forces and controversies that transformed the young nation. We will examine reactions to the industrial, economic, and technological transformations that were changing the nation from a rural agrarian country to a modern capitalist one.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 13 hours.
5.1: Technology and Class Division
5.2: Economic Development
5.3: Urban Popular Culture, the Penny Press, and the New Social Order
5.4: Melville, Capitalism, and the Limits of Sympathy
5.5: The Move toward Realism in Davis' "Life in the Iron-Mills"
5.6: American Nature as Challenge to American Progress
Unit 5 Assessment